2019 4 Under 40 Awards

Presented by Appalachian Commercial Real Estate

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 4 Under 40 Awards highlight emerging leaders in the High Country business community. 

Awards are distributed to honorees in the following categories: Business Owner, Rising Star, Non-Profit, and Education. Nominees must be 39 years-old or younger and must exhibit professional success while a member of the Boone area community. Four finalists are recognized in each catagory during the annual awards ceremony before a winner is chosen.

The 3rd-annual award ceremony was held Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at Harvest House in Boone.

Nominations for the 2020 4 Under 40 Awards will be accepted from February 3 to March 31, 2020. Please contact the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce for sponsorship information and additional event details.

2019 Honorees

Business Owner: Joseph Miller, COBO / Black Cat  

Joseph Miller is a Boone local that graduated Appalachian State in 2007 with a BSBA in Finance from the Walker College of Business. He has accumulated over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. After graduating he moved to Colorado and worked in the sushi business for five years, and then moved back to the High Country to open COBO in May of 2013.  In 2015, COBO was awarded as a Top 10 Restaurant in in western North Carolina by WNC Magazine. In June of 2018, he purchased Black Cat with his parents Wayne & Jenny Miller. When asked what he valued most about his business ventures, he said, “The most important aspect of a company is the staff. My employees are everything to me and my businesses and I love them more than they could ever know.”

Additional finalists: Zak Ammar, Vixster, LLC; Ryan Costin, Beech Mountain Resort; Shae Jones, Ground Effects Landscaping & Maintenance

Education: Tierra Stark, Watauga High School

Tierra Stark is an Assistant Principal and Career & Technical Education Director for Watauga County School. She is a product of a Watauga County Schools education, having attended Parkway Elementary School and Watauga High School. She attended Appalachian State University and then began her career with Watauga County Schools as a Family & Consumer Sciences teacher at Watauga High School. She later became a facilitator of Career & Technical Education (CTE) for Watauga County Schools where she coordinated high school interns at community facilities, managed instructional content and the testing program, and helped teachers provide an equitable education. She recently earned a Master’s in School Administration and moved into her current role as an assistant principal at Watauga High School and CTE Director. In this position, she works with community members, including Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, to implement and provide industry-aligned training to students while working with high school seniors to make their last year of high school count for their future.

Additional finalists: Brian Bettis (Bethel School); Matt Dull (App State Student Development); Geralyn Mitchell (App State Career Development)

Non-Profit Business Professional: Andy Hill, MountainTrue

Andy Hill serves as the High Country Regional Director and Watauga Riverkeeper for MountainTrue. As a long-time fly fisherman, educator and guide, his intimate understanding of the area’s watershed fuels his ability to provide an experienced layer of protection to many areas. Hill attended Appalachian State University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Experiential Education and his Masters in College Outdoor Program Administration. A graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, he thrives on using the outdoors as a source of learning and connecting people with our shared wild places. Hill is active in the community as the founder of Fish Goat Guide Service based in Valle Crucis as well as the Fly-Fishing Program at Lees-McRae College, with a mission to help connect students to clean, cold water. He serves an adjunct instructor at Appalachian State University, teaching courses in Natural Resource Management, Paddlesports and Leadership & Group Dynamics.

Additional finalists: Caroline Gandy (Blue Ridge Conservancy); Charlene Grasinger (Western Youth Network); Dr. Holli Sink (Southmountain Children & Family Services)

Rising Star: Danielle Wade, Jackson Sumner & Associates

Danielle Wade graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Spanish. After graduation, she gravitated to the family business, Jackson Sumner & Associates (JSA), Excess & Surplus Lines Brokers located in her hometown of Boone, NC. While working as a P&C Underwriter for nearly a decade, JSA experienced exponential growth during the 2000’s. Her responsibilities grew, eventually pulling her away from underwriting and elevating her to a leadership role in the company. She completed the NAPSLO Executive Leadership School at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in 2014 and after serving for 5 years as JSA’s Chief Operating Officer, she was just recently named President & CEO in January of 2019. She is a Past UFO (Under Forty Organization) President and a Past President of the NC Surplus Lines Association. Currently, she is the Chair of the NC Stamping Office and the Chair of the Brantley Risk and Insurance Program at Appalachian State University. She is also presently serving on the WSIA Education Foundation Board as well as two national insurance carrier’s Advisory Boards. She was also recently recognized by Insurance Business of America as one of the Top Young Guns for 2016.

Additional finalists: Caleb McGuire (Pub Cycle of Boone); Rowen Todd (Mountain Vista Window Washing); Julie Wiggins (High Country Council of Governments)

Respect Your Elder Award: Jeannine Underdown Collins, Underdown & Associates, Inc

Jeannine Underdown Collins is a native of Elkin, North Carolina, and has lived in Boone since 1975. A graduate of Elkin High School, she was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority and the Appalachian Ambassadors as an undergraduate and remains an active mentor for those organizations today. Underdown Collins graduated with a BS in History in 1979 and an MA in History in 1981. She incorporated Underdown and Associates Inc, a real estate appraisal company, in January of 1985 and still operates the business 34-years later. After graduation from Appalachian State, she has remained an active member of the University community. She served leadership positions on both the Yosef Club and Turchin Center Advisory boards and has been a long-time member of the Appalachian Alumni Council, serving as President in 2003. Underdown Collins was a member of the Appalachian State Board of Trustees from 2005-13, serving as Chair in 2009.

Her civic engagement was highlighted by serving on Boone Town Council from 2015-17, where she was a key advocate for the creation of the Boone Greenway Skatepark. Underdown Collins has served as a member of the Watauga Economic Development Commission, the Boone Tourism Development Authority, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, High Country Board of Realtors, and the board of the Southern Appalachian Historical Society during her career.

Underdown Collins is a mentor and champion of students, young adults, and entrepreneurs who are transitioning into their professional careers. Her advice and council bring stability to many during periods of great change and her knowledge of the area helps her to assist others in unlocking countless opportunities within the area.  

Click here for a 2018 Event Recap

4 Under 40 Past Recipients

Year

Non-Profit Business Professional

2017

Jennifer Warren, Western Youth Network

2018

Danny Wilcox, We Can So You Can Foundation

2019

Andy Hill, MountainTrue

Year

Education Professional

2017

Dr. Caleb Marsh, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute

2018

Zack Green, The Mountain Alliance

2019

Tierra Stark, Watauga High School

Year

Business Owner

2017

Grant Seldomridge, River & Earth Adventures

2018

Tyler Moffatt, Moffatt & Moffatt, PLLC

2019

Joseph Miller, COBO/Black Cat

Year

Rising Star

2017

Anthony Brumfield, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton

2018

Anna Oakes, Mountain Times Publications

2019

Danielle Wade, Jackson Sumner & Associates

Year

Respect Your Elder

2017

Erich Schlenker, Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship

2018

Jim Street, Appalachian State University

2019

Jeannine Underdown Collins, Underdown & Associates